6 Second Review: Maine Root Sarsaparilla! Matt: B+
6 Second Review: Maine Root Sarsaparila! Jacob: B-
Review: Flathead Lake Gourmet Huckleberry Soda
So…what is huckleberry? When I first think of the word Huckleberry Finn comes to mind, followed by Huckleberry Hound. However, the huckleberry is of course a real berry, specifically the state fruit of Idaho. I’ve never eaten a huckleberry on its own, but I hear they’re pretty similar to blueberries in look, yet have some distinct differences in taste. So how will this soda compare?
For some initial background on this company, Flathead Lake doesn’t actually have their own website, yet is distributed through North American Beverages, founded in 1993. This specific soda is based in Montana, with this bottle prominently featuring the “Flathead Lake Monster.” The Flathead lake is actually the largest freshwater lake in the U.S. Apparently in 1889 a local fisherman claimed to see a prehistoric monster, thus cementing it as a legend. Good job Montana.
The soda itself is mostly sweet, with a slight tartness before swallow. Overall, I would compare the taste as similar to Maine Root’s Blueberry soda, yet with a less full flavor. The taste is also less natural than that of Maine Root, almost like there’s a tinge of grape soda. It’s overall quite tasty and somewhat of a unique flavor, though it is not a soda I would find myself returning to regularly.
Here’s our winners!
1st Prize (Choice of 3 sodas): http://inflatableheart.tumblr.com/
2nd Prize (Choice of 2 sodas): http://crazycoffeefiend.tumblr.com/
3rd Prize (Choice of 1 soda): http://limekle.tumblr.com/
Congrats! We have sent the winners “ask” questions! Pick your flavor/s of choice and send us an email to email@example.com with your shipping info! Thanks!
Here it is, a video of highlights from our first-ever Soda Social back in December! The event was a blast and well attended despite an ill timed snow storm. We intend to have an even larger follow-up event some time this Summer, so we’ll keep you posted!
Reviews: Manzanita Sol & Manzana Lift
The funny thing about soda in Mexico is that apple flavors are huge! It’d compare their market share to that of Sprite/Sierra Mist/ 7up. If a restaurant serves two sodas, you can almost guarantee that the two drinks will be Coke and an apple soda.
Reinstating this comparison, apple soda’s 7up equivalent would Sidral Mundet, a soda that we actually discussed in our first video review. I found that particular drink to simply be okay, tasting more or less like slightly diluted apple juice with carbonation. Despite the popularity of apple soda, actual apple juice was rather somewhat of a rarity in Mexico, and I never saw a packaged drink that was equivalent to Mott’s, Minute Maid, or Apple & Eve. Since juice isn’t cheap, yet as apple soda is and tastes kind of like apple juice, I can however understand its popularity.
I’ll start first with Pepsi’s offering, Manzanita Sol, or “Apple Sun.” Though obviously no one calls it that. Anyways, this tastes almost exactly like Sidral Mundet, yet has a bit more carbonation. With this, I’ll give it a C+ rather than a C. Also like Sidral Mundet, the best thing about this soda it is that its rather refreshing, particularly when its cold. Mexico is hot all the time, so refreshing is certainly important! However, water is refreshing too, so I won’t give this soda too much credit for that.
Now touching upon Coke’s offering, Manzana Lift, I actually really like the can design here, though that’s pretty much it. These three apple sodas are actually pretty easy to compare, as its base flavor is essentially apple juice. Rather they vary based on simply how watered down they taste. This one tastes easily the most diluted, with a very weak flavor. The can states that this drink includes 1% concentrated apple juice, which I find funny that they would even mention this. I mean, just say contains real apple juice! Then you don’t need to get specific. I really can’t even drink this one. It’s like something’s wrong. This is a very rare instance of Pepsi doing something better.
Manzanita Sol: C+
Manzana Lift: D+
What is Pepsi Kick? It’s a diet drink styled similarly to Pepsi Max, which is available in the U.S. The smell is a bit unfamiliar, but as it has practically the same ingredients as Pepsi Max, it tastes very similar. This is a good thing as despite their dumb and misogynistic “diet soda for men” marketing campaign, I have always found to be one of the most tasty diet sodas. Some may of course consider this an oxymoron. However, compared to Pepsi Max, the ginseng element of this soda seems stronger, as the after taste is a bit more rooty. Still, it’s not prominent enough really to have a preference of one soda over the other. Overall, as far as diet drinks go, I’d take this over Diet Coke. Plus as the caffeine overload makes this a potential quick substitute for coffee, I’m on board with this soda.
Rating: B (Matt)
Review: Cristal Negra
This is a Mexican beverage so small and regional that I only found it referenced on a single site. However, this site is of little help for figuring out where this “Cristal” brand comes from, how long they have existed for, and what this flavor is supposed to be. The bottle’s text of “Cristal sabor Negra” directly translates to “Crystal black flavor,” which is also little help. I also highly doubt that this Cristal is somehow related to the more famous gold label champagne of the same name. “Poppin Cristals, Freakin the three-quarter reptiles?” I highly doubt that the LOX was referring to this drink.
What’s even weirder though is that I actually quite like this flavor, despite having no idea what I am drinking. First, it has one of the most unique soda smells I’ve ever experienced. It’s a very sweet smell, almost like a chemically engineered flower in that it actually tickles your nose. The taste pattern occurs like a wave, alternating between sweet and smooth, with it ending on slightly tangy high point right before swallow. For the flavor itself, I’ve never been this questioning of what comprises a soda’s taste before. I feel like the best I can do is compare it to somewhat like a sweet tea, if you decided to make a sweet tea popsicle. With this, it doesn’t actually taste like sweet tea per se, but an artificially flavored version that is actually successful on its own. If any readers have also tried this soda or have more information, definitely let me know! This is a delightful oddity.
Rating: B+ (Matt)
Continuing on with Mexican soda, ToniCol is a vanilla cream soda that has been around since 1880. The guy who invented its formula was named Antonio…so thus Toni + Cola. Though it’s actually not a cola. So I guess that’s why they deleted the “a.” I feel like if he knew this soda would stick around for over 130 years, he might have wanted to think of a better name. But hey, with that manufacturing run, who am I to judge?
Issues with the name would simply be an aside, as in the world of soda, taste is obviously key. However I am far from a fan of this soda’s taste. Beginning with the smell, you know that amazing sweet and tingly scent of a good cream soda? This doesn’t have that at all. It’s rather deep and rather medicinal. The majority of the flavor apparently comes from “concentrated natural vanilla extract.” I love vanilla as a flavor and considering the high reputation of Mexican Vanilla extract, I hoped that this would make an amazing soda. Rather I find it completely undrinkable. The soda’s slogan is “ToniCol …..es diferente,” which if you couldn’t guess translates to “ToniCol …..is different.” Having learned from Moxie, I feel like it’s best that I personally stand clear of soda that directly advertises itself as being different.
It’s hard to even describe the taste, though the word cloying comes to mind. It’s incredibly syrupy, so much so where you question if they somehow mixed up the ratio for your particular batch. I have since looked up other opinions, and it seems like this is actually normal. It takes nothing like a cream soda, nor cola. I remember as a kid once trying a drop of vanilla extract after being seduced by its divine smell. Obviously that was a bad idea. The memory of that taste is too distant to provide a flavor comparison, but this soda elicits a similar instantaneous negative reaction. I find nothing redeeming about this drink.
Rating: F (Matt)
Review: Mirinda Orange
This is an orange soda originally from Spain, but very common in Mexico. It’s actually been owned by Pepsi since 1970. The word “Mirinda” means “wonderful” in Esperanto. I guess there used to be way more flavors in the past- grapefruit, apple, strawberry, raspberry, pineapple, pomegranate, banana, passionfruit, lemon, hibiscus, Guarana, tangerine, tamarind, and grape. They now mainly focus on orange though, which is too bad. There’s not enough weirder fruit sodas. Like banana is the most popular fruit in the world…why is it not a popular soda??
Anways, moving past Wikipedia information, this tastes a little different than your typical Fanta/Sunkist/Slice type orange soda. It tastes a bit more like mandarin orange, but more like if Tang had a soda. I’ve actually mixed Tang with Sprite before. It’s not too far off from this. Which is actually pretty good.
Grade: B (Matt)